I am one citizen of this land who was not impressed when Clive Thomas went to Buxton and told an audience that the government must give US$5,000 to working class households out of oil revenues.
Without context, you will never understand why the social world moves. Thomas was simply trying to save his dying credibility when he delivered his demagoguery in Buxton. First, when he made the statement at the end of 2018, he had completed four years in a neo-liberal government that had not even marginally effected positive changes in the economy of the poorer classes.
Secondly, for the four years he questioned absolutely nothing about the questionable policies of the David Granger presidency which included increase license on animal drawn carts; banning of second-hand tyres; refusal to pay monies due to employees of closed sugar estates; failure of his party to honour a campaign promise of amendment to the 1988 anti-narcotic legislation; declaration by his president that the role of the state was not to find employment for citizens; the extravagant waste of money at UG while its infrastructure crumbled.
Thirdly, Thomas had squandered his huge historical legacy by subsuming his personality and contributions under the mediocrity of a PNC leader that Black people supported only because he was African Guyanese but did not admire him. Fourthly, Thomas was speaking in a village that has immense respect for Walter Rodney. So Thomas was acutely aware of the context of the $5,000 donation.
Here is an extract from my column, “Clive Thomas: Transformation into dependency” of Tuesday, February 19, 2018: “I was walking my dog on the seawall and had my eyes on the ground. When I looked up, Clive’s deputy at SARA, Aubrey Retmeyer, was in front of me. I knew Aubrey during the struggle against the PPP’s autocracy. I told Aubrey I feel disgusted that Clive could rent a house from one of the Caribbean’s richest families to house SARA when he could find similar spaces from small landlords who could do with the money. Aubrey suggested that I go and see Clive. My reply was: “What for, I have nothing to say to Clive Thomas.”
I produced this quote because the Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, recently revealed that SARA, which Thomas heads, is paying G$2 million monthly to a very rich non-African family for rental of its building. This is the same Thomas that went to Buxton and made his pitch about giving Guyanese $5,000 American from oil revenues.
Thomas’ double standard is the story of African Guyanese readers fooling African Guyanese for narrow political purposes. With the murder of the Henry cousins in Cotton Tree, there are tsunamic outpourings of concerns for the future of African Guyanese by people who for five years had state power but did not empower African Guyanese. At the funeral service, with the exception of Nigel Hughes and Volda Lawrence, you could question the sincerity of all the speakers.
Harmon spoke but, as Minister of the presidency, not a damn thing was done about the retirement age of public servants even though a Commission of Inquiry recommended upping it. Lincoln Lewis was another speaker but the UG unions threatened to leave the TUC after Lewis gave open support to the UG administration in the unions’ dispute. Both unions are headed by African Guyanese of which a vast majority of its members are African Guyanese.
The murder of the Henry cousins is yet another indication of how African PNC leaders are prepared to sacrifice the happiness of African Guyanese for the sake of their obsession with power. While Granger, Harmon and other opportunists, with the exception of Lawrence, were inciting Black people to damage Guyana, one man stood extremely tall – the father of one of the Henry boys and by extension the uncle of the other.
He was never comfortable with the racist demagoguery Granger and Harmon had used that led to death and destruction. He did not endorse the explanation of the murders being a hate crime. Like Lawrence, he disassociated himself from the robberies and beating of innocent Indian people in Region 5. Maybe in his own, little way, he knew Granger and Harmon had come to Region 5 not to mourn the Henry boys, not to empathize with their families and relatives but to use their deaths to destroy Guyana because they lost the 2020 election.
Granger is still head of the PNC. He has unilaterally appointed Harmon, his army buddy from the days of the seventies when Burnham ordered the murder of Walter Rodney. What they do next should be no surprise but African Guyanese should stop them.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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